Gear for Muskie and Beyond
I’ve recently returned from a backcountry fishing trip for musky. By “backcountry” I mean we boated six miles to an island we like to primitive camp on. While we had the boat for transport, there were three of us and so space was limited. We had a great trip, we all caught fish, ate well and slept well.
Over the years I have collected and then whittled down my fishing and camping gear. I have the usual array of gear and outdoor clothing. Many factors and a lot of planning contributed to the success of this trip, but these are a few pieces of gear that really stood out. Please note I am not sponsored in any way by these companies, and I bought these items at retail price with my own money. They are just great items that made a big difference for me on this trip. They can for you too.
GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier
According to my friend Tom Hazelton there’s nothing like drinking the water you’re fishing- purified of course. It adds terroir to your trip. Ditch the water bottles and pick up a GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. We all used these for the week, and I have to say, there’s nothing like dipping your cup, pressing it through the built-in filter and sipping on the finest beverage known to man- cool, clean water. Its simple design and ease of use are a plus- there’s no hoses or floats to fumble with and no batteries required.
The replaceable filter is rated for about 300 pressings, so it will last for many trips afield, and it’s suitable for filtering tap water in foreign countries. Best of all, when fishing you can merely dip, press and drink. When you taste cold, clean water from a trout stream, no doubt you’ll be moved to make an investment in protecting it.
Hennessy Hammock Expedition Hammock Tent
I bought this several years ago at a time I was starting to wonder if I could continue backcountry camping. I was reaching a point where I could no longer sleep on the ground no matter how comfortable the pad. I bought the Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym Zip and my sleep has been blissful, nay, magical ever since. Instead of roughing out exhausted days until I could get home and sleep, I enjoyed my trips, and in some ways it’s more comfortable than my bed.
Belly sleepers will be out of luck, but if you sleep well on your back or side this will be the best camp sleep achievable, and possibly better than your bed at home. At 2 lbs. 12 oz. it is easily packable for any trip imaginable. All you need is two sturdy trees to hang it from.
Temple Fork Outfitters Esox Rod
I brought two rods on this trip, an eleven weight, and the twelve weight Temple Fork Outfitters Esox rod. While that eleven weight is a very nice rod, once I picked up the TFO, I never set it back down.
TFO measures this rod in the grain weight of the line to be used. The “12 weight” is actually rated for 400-500 grain lines. We were using 400 to 450 grain lines to cast the large flies we are using. When I switched from my eleven weight to the TFO I was immediately casting farther with less effort. Closer shots loaded and released faster. The built in extended fighting butt made doing those figure eights at the end of EVERY retrieve a breeze. As much as I love that eleven weight, it has been relegated as a backup rod and for pike and saltwater fishing.
Pelican 1500 Case
Increasingly we take our electronics with us on our trips, unless you are Dave Karczynski, who has eschewed all electronics in camp. I recently purchased a new camera and wanted to protect it. In the past I’ve used dry bags or other insufficient means. In an environment which has served up mud, sand, high winds, and days of incessant rain, I needed something up to the task of protecting my shooting iron, plus a compact video camera and other sensitive gear.
The Pelican 1500 Case is perfect for your DSLR, plus a couple lenses, a Joby tripod and anything else electronic you can manage to stuff in there. For me it was a cheap insurance policy with the noted difference that it actually protects your gear. It features a tight water seal, and dual locking latches that work together to keep moisture and dust out. The shell is virtually indestructible and suitable for airline travel. You can get the Pelican 1500 case with a foam insert that you can easily custom shape to your gear, or for a little more coin B&H Photo sells one with a padded Velcro adjustable insert, which is what I’ve opted for. Set up this way it would easily hold two camera bodies and multiple lenses.